Last weekend, the Knox College women’s soccer team lost two Midwest Conference (MWC) games in Wisconsin and ever since, they have lost.
On Thursday, Oct. 23, Knox traveled to Monmouth, Ill. to take on MWC opponent Monmouth College and was defeated 6-0. The Fighting Scots scored their first goal 15:57 into the game, and at the halfway point, held a 2-0 lead. When the final horn sounded, the Prairie Fire had zero shots on goal and another MWC loss. However, Alex Rauland had 10 total saves, which left her just eight saves away from breaking teammate Cassie Milleville’s record of 218 saves in a single season, and in 8th place all-time in the Midwest Conference for saves in a season.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, Knox played host to the Buccaneers of Beloit College and was defeated 6-2. The Buccaneers jumped out on top 11 minutes into the game, when Molly Dickson scored on an assist from Liz Haan. At halftime, the Bruce Shadbolt Memorial scoreboard at Jorge Prats Field read 4-1, in Beloit’s favor. Knox freshman Emma Swanson put the Prairie Fire on the board on an unassisted goal, her third of the season, with 12 minutes remaining in the half. During the half, Beloit had nine shots stopped by Rauland, which put her ahead of Milleville for most saves in a single season in the history of women’s soccer at Knox College.
“I did not realize I broke the record,” said Rauland after the game. “It feels pretty cool.”
In the second half, the game got a little rougher, and the Prairie Fire defense got a little tougher, but Knox was only able to find the back of the net once and did so with 21 minutes remaining in the game when freshman Alison Ehrhard scored her first goal of the season on an assist from Swanson.
“It felt pretty good scoring,” Ehrhard said. “I think it was one of those things where I was at the right place at the right time. I just saw the opening, and I was surprised that no one was smothering the ball when I got it. I just shot, and it went in.”
Upon conclusion of the game, the Prairie Fire had a 1-7 conference record and 1-15 overall, but assistant coach John Baillie was happy that the women did not quit.
“The girls came out and played really hard and refused to give up,” Baillie said. “It was a conference opponent that we are real comparable to and can play with. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way. I can’t say enough about the ability of this team to step up to adversity and fight right through it.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 28, the Saints of Ashford University came marching into Jorge Prats Field and defeated the Prairie Fire 7-0. Ashford scored 17:00 into the game when Abbye Garcia found the net off an assist from Cassy Broderick. At the half, the Saints were up 3-0. In the second half, Knox locked up on defense, but the offense was stagnant, shooting just one time. The loss brought the Prairie Fire’s record to 1-16 overall, as they look towards the future.
“I think the most important thing to know about this year is we looked at it as a rebuilding year from the first moment,” Baillie said. “We continue to treat it as such. What myself and Coach McLellan see in this team is the strong base of a team that is going to win the conference tournament in a couple of years. What we have out here are 10 freshman, three sophomores, and a junior. No one is leaving next year and those players are going to form a strong base. Next year, and the year after, is going to be the basis of a really good team.”
But next year is not quite here yet, and the Prairie Fire will play host one last time this season on Saturday, at 1:30 p.m., when they take on conference opponent Grinnell College.
Make sure that you take a break from the football game and walk across the street to Jorge Prats Field to see if Rauland can move up the rankings in the MWC for most saves in a season. She currently has 247 and is 109 saves away from Michelle Foiles of Illinois College, who has held the record since 1993.